Police officers in England and Wales to be issued with more powerful stun guns

Home Secretary authorises new weapons but says forces must be more open about their use of tasers

Benjamin Kentish
Thursday 02 March 2017 15:04 GMT
A number of people have died after having a taser used on them, leading critics to warn against use of the weapons
A number of people have died after having a taser used on them, leading critics to warn against use of the weapons (Getty)

Police in England and Wales will be issued with stronger electric stun guns, the Home Secretary has announced.

Amber Rudd said she was authorising the introduction of the Taser X2 weapon providing police forces collect and publish detailed data on their use of Tasers.

The Government will adopt all the recommendations of a review by David Shaw, a former Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, into the use of force by police officers.

But officers will have to record the location and outcome of every incident in which they use a Taser. The age and ethnicity of anyone who a Taser is used on will also be registered and published from this summer.

In addition, all other incidents in which police use force, including physical restraint, will be have to be recorded.

The Home Office said the new Taser had undergone “extensive evaluation” and “full technical evaluation”, the findings of which were submitted to the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less-Lethal Weapons.

The current Taser, the X26 model, was made available to specially-trained police officers in 2003. The weapon has provided highly controversial after a number of people died having had the stun gun used on them.

Brandon Lewis, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, said: “The Government is committed to giving the police the tools they need to do their job effectively – we must ensure our officers have access to the best, and most up-to-date technology available.

“Tasers are an important tactical option for the police, particularly in potentially violent situations where other tactics have been considered or failed.”

Ms Rudd said: “We ask the police to put themselves in harm’s way to defend us and the use of force is a vital part of their powers.

“But when the police take the difficult decision to deploy force it is also vital that the people they serve can scrutinise it.

“These new rules will introduce unprecedented transparency to this important subject and reinforce the proud British model of policing by consent.”

However, critics said the changes were not enough. Bella Sankey, Director of Policy at human rights chatiry Liberty, said: “The use of Tasers has grown vastly since their introduction – but regulation remains woeful. Initially intended for firearms officers only, they’re now available across the frontline – and there have been far too many examples of completely inappropriate use, with the BME community and those with mental health conditions most affected.

“Increased monitoring, including ethnicity and age monitoring, is welcome. But it is deeply irresponsible that the Home Secretary – instead of tightening up regulations – is authorising more powerful and dangerous Tasers. Making an already lethal tool more lethal will do little to reassure those communities at the sharp end of this practice.”

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